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Northern Ireland Irish Hare Survey 2002

Northern Ireland Irish Hare Survey 2002

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Irish hare survey for the Environment and Heritage Service (DoE, N.I.). Published by the Queen's University of Belfast, School of Biology & Biochemistry.
Irish hare survey for the Environment and Heritage Service (DoE, N.I.). Published by the Queen's University of Belfast, School of Biology & Biochemistry.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Irish Council Against Blood Sports on Mar 19, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/26/2011

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The Northern Ireland Irish Hare
Lepus timidus hibernicus 
Survey2002
For: The Environment and Heritage Service (DoE, N.I.).By: The Queen's University of Belfast, School of Biology & Biochemistry.Authors: Dr Jane Preston, Dr Paulo Prodöhl, Dr Alex Portig & Professor IanMontgomery.Date: February, 2003
 
Contents
PageExecutive Summary
1
1. Background to the Current Project
5
2. Objectives
7
3. Methods
7
3.1 Estimates of Hare Abundance
7
3.1.1 Method 1 - Night Driven Transects (NDT)
8
3.1.2 Method 2 - Day Walked Squares (DWS)
11
3.2 Results
13
3.2.1 Night Driven Transects
13
3.2.2 Day Walked Squares
16
3.3 Creation of a library of genetic markers
20
3.3.1 Scientific Background for the Genetic Work
20
3.3.2 Materials, Methods & Results
22
3.3.3 Discussion
28
4. Overall Discussion
29
 
1
Executive Summary
The Irish hare
Lepus timidus hibernicus,
(Linnaeus 1759) is an endemicsubspecies now believed to be genetically distinct from the Scottish Mountainhare and more closely related to mainland European populations of
Lepus timidus 
(Hamill, 2001). The best available evidence suggests a major decline in Harenumbers in Northern Ireland from the beginning to the latter part of the 20
th
Century. This decline has been attributed to environmental changes, notably lossof plant species richness, associated with intensification of agriculture (Dingerkus& Montgomery, 1997).The only comprehensive survey of the population of the Irish Harethroughout Northern Ireland was carried out in the mid-1990s by Dingerkus(Queen's University Belfast). Surveys were conducted by walking diagonallyacross 1km squares and counting the number of Hares observed as they wereflushed from cover and searching intensively throughout each square. Thissurvey demonstrated that although widespread throughout Northern Ireland, theIrish Hare occurred at low densities of around 1-2 per km
2
. These observationsprompted a Biodiversity Species Action Plan (EHS, 2000) to set as targets:“to maintain the existing range and demonstrate a population increase by2005; double present population by 2010 over as much of the range aspossible and, maintain and increase the area and quality of suitable harehabitat.”The Irish Hare still appears on the quarry list and may be hunted legally inNorthern Ireland at certain times of the year and by certain methods includingcoursing by dogs (Wildlife (NI) Order, 1985). The Northern Ireland Assembly in2001 debated Hare coursing and introduced a new amendment to the GamePreservation Act (NI) 1928 governing the issue of permits to net Hares - GamePreservation (Amendment) Act (NI) 2002. This requires that the Department besatisfied that the trapping of Hares for the purposes of coursing has no impact onthe wild population.

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